Android keeps taking Apple's tablets

Aug 2, 2013

Steve Jobs' virtual canonisation as the all-seeing one (even before his death) clearly made it difficult for Apple to overturn some of his more questionable pronouncements. One of those was about screen sizes - those of both the iPhone and the iPad.

Having reached a decision on what size the two iconic Apple products should be, Jobs tended to stand firm. It was as if Apple had defined the Aristotelian essence of the hand-held gadget. Any other size was a compromise and Apple seems to have remained reluctant to substantially loosen up on the Jobsian creed.

And now, guess what? It's the size and diversity thing which, more than anything else, is seeing Android pull way ahead of Apple in tablets.

According to researchers, Canalys, the smaller tablets are driving the latest big share gains for Android - seeing it overtake iOS and grab a 53 per cent market share.

According to Canalys, over 34 million tablets shipped in Q2 2013, a 43 per cent year-on-year increase. Tablets now account for 31 per cent of worldwide PC shipments.

On the other hand Apple's tablet shipments actually declined 14 per cent on Q2 2012 and its market share dropped to 43 per cent.

This has enabled what Canalys calls "the chasing pack of Samsung, Amazon, Lenovo and Acer " to grow by over 200 per cent each, driven by increasing demand for small-screen tablets. Canalys estimates that 68 per cent of tablets shipped in Q2 had a screen size smaller than 9 inches.

"Consumers have been evaluating tablets and the results are now in," the press release has Tim Coulling, Canalys Senior Analyst, saying. ‘With touch-screens contributing to a high proportion of the build cost of a tablet, small-screen products can be priced very aggressively.’

So Canalys expects the aggressive price war to continue (to Apple's detriment) and the Android base to keep on growing exponentially, despite the fact that, at present, Android tablet app availability is way down on what's in the App Store.

That's expected to change as developers increasingly switch their attention to Android as the user base soars.

Like just about everyone else, Canalys expects Apple to introduce a greater diversity of screen sizes and hit different price-points to try and at least find some growth. Market leadership for iOS, however, is probably off the radar for the foreseeable future.

Apple's launch program this year will show whether it's broken free from Saint Steve and his little obsessions.

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